The current exhibition by Nuno da Luz at the Vera Cortês Art Agency, Wilderness, differs substantially from the artist’s previous projects, as the works being presented do not gravitate around a specific nar- rative or concept, but convoke a seemingly intuitive constellation of works of art (including some which were especially produced for the show and others which have been following the artist for some time) that in their ensemble, evoke different work processes, different me- dia and narratives.
Notwithstanding the diversity of the works shown here, as well as the variety of media, the title of the show evokes a number of criti- cal reflections on the construction and reproduction of the concept of “wilderness”, key to how the artist articulates his works in the discursive space that configures this exhibition. To be more specific, da Luz assumes the centrality of this concept in the edification of national colonial identities, built on the gradual elimination of in- digenous populations and their history. The western narratives that call for the protection of this “wilderness”, seeing it as a natural and wild heritage that needs to be preserved, often forget that, in many cases, these areas were violently depopulated, and only afterwards kept in a precarious ecological equilibrium, for the sake of a static quality which was imposed on them. Conversely, spaces which are not identified as “wilderness” are subjected to mass destruction and exploitation. All this implies, first and foremost, a radical discontinu- ity between nature and culture, human and non-human.
Nuno da Luz is interested in reclaiming the term “wilderness”
in order to attempt its decolonization; a radical reconfiguration of our relation with the Other may entail a possible answer to the radi- cal discontinuity we find in the nature/culture dialectic. From this perspective, Wilderness is not only a collection of reflections, it
is also the link between them, it is the concept that supports and articulates the elements presented in this exhibition. With this in mind, all the pieces propose, albeit in a seemingly biased or hermetic fashion, the possibility of the idea of creating community—not in the historical-political sense of creating community—but rather utiliz- ing a very particular notion of reverse archeology in which recent
and contemporary materials (industrial, prefabricated and bought through regular commercial transactions, easily recognizable as utilitarian objects; e.g., lamps, a curtain, skateboards) point towards a new form of animism.
The exhibition is an attempt to reconstruct that which can be understood as our “wilderness”. Not “nature” or some kind of inter- species dialogue, but a dialogue between life forms and non-life forms, assuming that the concept of artificiality is also, and maybe especially, an essential element of what that “other” really is. Not a “world-without-us”, but rather a territory densely populated by pres- ences and intentions; an integral part of who we are, beyond all hu- man/non-human dichotomies.
Text by Luís Silva.
Nuno da Luz - Wilderness
Vera Cortês Art Agency, November 20 - January 16